In the caption accompanying the Nelson Leafs annual awards photo for 2011-12, something of note was overlooked in the awards presented to Nik Newman.
In addition to being named most valuable player, Newman won the team’s leading scorer and rookie of the year awards.
Why are these additions newsworthy? Well, I challenge you to answer the following question: what does Newman now have in common with former NHL players Robbie Tallas (goaltender), Brad Larsen (forward) and defenceman Geoff Kinrade?
Consider all played junior hockey with the Leafs. Then as Leafs, all four were recognized as rookie of the year: Tallas in 1990, Larsen 1993, Kinrade 2002 and Newman 2012.
Lest you have forgotten, Tallas’ NHL career began in 1996 with the Boston Bruins. He played the 2001 season with the Chicago Blackhawks, and that summer signed as a free agent with Pittsburgh and played for their AHL affiliated team for two seasons before concluding his career in Finland in 2004.
Nakusp native Larsen’s rookie of the year season prepared him well for a very successful major junior, AHL and NHL career.
While playing for Swift Current of the WHL, he was a member of Team Canada’s gold medal teams at the 1996 and 1997 Worlds Junior Championships.
Originally drafted by Ottawa in the 1995, Larsen was subsequently selected in the 1997 re-entry draft by Colorado. Following four seasons with Colorado, Larsen was claimed on waivers by Atlanta in 2006, where he played an additional four seasons.
Following 294 NHL games, Larsen concluded his professional career in the AHL following the 2009-10 season.
Nelson born and Nelson Minor Hockey graduate, Kinrade played two seasons with the Leafs before starring in the BCHL with Cowichan Valley.
Following four successful seasons with Michigan Tech University of the NCAA, Kinrade’s graduating year of 2009 saw his hockey season rocket from university to the AHL and subsequently his appearance in a NHL game for Tampa Bay Lightning vs Washington Capitals.
That summer, Kinrade signed with the Ottawa Senators and played two seasons with their AHL Binghamton Senators.
In 2011, the underdog Binghamton conquered all challengers by winning the AHL Championship and the Calder Cup. Presently, Kinrade is playing in the European Elite Hockey League for Bern, Switzerland.
Will Newman follow the lofty professional careers of former Leafs rookie of the year recipients? Stay tuned …